Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Overseas Filipinos pumped $20.7B or P1.035T into PH economy from Jan to Aug 2017

(Rep Ron Salo)

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, our country's constitutionally-mandated central monetary authority, is doing a splendid job at financial inclusion so that more Filipinos are able to avail of financial services wherever they are nationwide or overseas.

One clear sign of this is the growth in Overseas Filipino remittances sent through banks, money transfer firms, and other formal intermediaries.

The latest BSP figures show that personal remittances increased by 6.4 percent in August 2017 while from January to August personal remittances totaled US$20.7 billion, or P1.035 trillion (at P50 to $1.00), which is one-third of the country’s current budget.

Overseas Filipinos, our modern-day heroes, pumped P1.035 trillion into the Philippine economy, and continues to keep the economy afloat!

Working together with the formal financial intermediaries, the BSP, DOLE, DFA, DTI, and other government agencies were able to make the remittance services happen and protect the hard-earned monies of OFWs.

Here at home, there are continuing efforts to enable OFWs and their dependents to acquire financial literacy, including how to save for future emergencies, future needs, sound investments, and entrepreneurship.

Expedite proposed pay hike for soldiers and cops
(Rep Neil Abayon)

[House Assistant Minority Leader and Member of the Committees on Appropriations, National Defense & Security, and Public Order & Safety Representative Neil Abayon wants the pay hike for cops and soldiers implemented ASAP. https://goo.gl/yZGf5c]


I laud the Duterte administration for the compensation adjustment for cops and soldiers. Currently, for example, a Police Officer 1 receives a basic monthly salary of P14,834. Call center agents receive better pay than that.

If the pay adjustment gets implemented, every PO1 shall be receiving a basic monthly salary of P29,668 (a 100% increase). Such move shall boost the morale of our law enforcers.

Relatedly, I filed House Bill 6187 (“Stakeholder Support to Military and Other Armed Services Personnel Act”) last August. HB 6187 seeks to give active duty soldiers and veteran soldiers benefits similar to most of the benefits now available to senior citizens.

While I acknowledge that the killing of terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf and Maute group figurehead Omar Maute by our brave soldiers is a victory in our war against terror, I maintain that it is prudent not to let our guard down.

I therefore support the continued implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao to prevent the remnants of the Maute group from escaping to provinces outside of Lanao and possibly regroup and infect other parts of Mindanao.

Solon pushes Hapilon, Maute rewards for soldiers
(Rep Joseph Bernos)

Abra Representative JB Bernos calls on the National Government to help the soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who helped to neutralize Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute last Monday.

According to reports, the Philippine government has offered a PHP 10 million bounty for Hapilon, on top of the USD 5 million reward offered by the United States, and of another PHP 5 million for the Maute brothers.

“It is only proper that our soldiers also become entitled to the bounties for these terrorists,” Bernos said. “After all, it was them who put their lives on the line to track and neutralize Hapilon and Maute.”

With the entire nation, Bernos, also vice chairperson of House Committee on Public Order and Safety, is also deeply relieved that Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the main perpetrators of the siege in Marawi City, have been killed, citing their respective roles in the said siege which spanned for more than four (4) months, and resulting to thousands of families losing their homes and livelihoods and their loved ones.

“I also cannot stress how unforgiveable is the destruction they had caused to the economy and local culture of Marawi City, which makes the efforts to rebuild the city an utmost consideration for this administration,” Bernos remarked. “The deaths of the two leaders of the terrorist forces usher in a new chapter in the city’s history – one that is centered on maintaining peace and stability amidst diversity of beliefs of its people.”

Bernos commends the elements of the AFP for a job well done, and for their dedication to the mission helped to see the fall of Hapilon and Maute.

“Their death greatly weakens the hold of the terrorist forces in the city. Now, the task on hand is one that should speed up efforts to make Marawi the great city it was. I believe that the AFP has a role to play in the rehabilitation of the city, and rest assured that the People of Abra – despite our great distance from where you are now – will continue to support you for your bravery and heroism, in the memory of our fallen soldiers who, until their last breath, were dedicated to the cause of peace and order in this country,” Bernos ended.

Nograles mulls reconstruction commission for Marawi rehab

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles today said that the death of two of the country's most notorious terrorist leaders- Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group and Omar Maute of the Maute Group-- should now jumpstart a massive and well-organized reconstruction effort to rebuild Marawi City.

Nograles, who is also serving as acting congressman for the first district of Sulu, said that the task of rebuilding Marawi City and return its old glory as the center  of Islamic culture in the Philippines is an enormous logistical and financial undertaking that would require an honest and dedicated group of civil work experts, logisticians and city planners.

Nograles proposed the creation of a non-partisan and non-sectarian reconstruction commission which would design and manage the reconstruction of Marawi City which has been flattened to the ground due to nearly five months of armed conflict.

Nograles also proposed that Martial Law should remain in effect even after the last remnant of the Maute militants have been flushed out to ensure the swift and uninterrupted reconstruction effort in Marawi City.

Nograles said that with expected outpouring of financial aid to support the reconstruction of Marawi,  there is a need to establish a single but well-organized government body, fully backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which would manage the funds for the reconstruction of the city.

"I think that we should learn from our Yolanda experience. There were too many cooks that spoiled the broth. Everyone's claiming credit for the projects but when problems began to manifest, everyone's playing the blame game.  We should do this differently in Marawi by creating a single government body that orchestrates all the needed reconstruction projects," Nograles said.

Nograles said that Marawi reconstructions should put priority on the rebuilding of homes and schools to speed up the reinstatement of the tens of thousand of internally displaced residents without sacrificing proper urban zoning and design.

Nograles said that since Marawi City would need complete makeover, urban planners should design the city like true modern metropolis.

"We should make sure that the communities that will re-emerge in a new Marawi City that is modern and responsive to the needs of its people. We should rebuild Marawi to make it a better place for those who have undergone so much pain. As one people, we have a moral responsibility to help heal the wounds of war," Nograles said.

Law passed soon prohibiting unattended children in vehicles

THE House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Bill (HB) 6570 seeking to prohibit leaving children eight-years-old and-below unattended in motor vehicles.

The committee on welfare of children chaired by Rep. Divina Grace Yu endorsed for plenary approval the bill which is principally authored by Reps. Strike Revilla and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Under the bill, a child must always be attended by someone 18 years or older while onboard a motor vehicle with engine running or the key is inside the vehicle.

It provides for a penalty of P5,000 for the first offense, P10,000 for the second offense and P50,000 with confiscation of the driver’s license for the third offense. Any subsequent offense shall carry the penalty of revocation of the driver’s license.

A public awareness campaign on the prohibition and dangers of leaving children unattended inside motor vehicles shall be undertaken nationwide by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will also be mandated by the bill if passed into law.

The LTO, in consultation with the member-agencies of the Council for the Welfare of Children shall issue the implementing rules and regulations of the measure once it is enacted into law.

Revilla said the deaths and injuries caused by leaving children unattended in motor vehicles are predictable and preventable.

“These injuries and deaths were caused by heat stroke, a motor vehicle being put in motion by a child, choking while inside a car, being kidnapped, inhaling toxic fumes, activation of automatic power controls, or being trapped in the vehicle’s trunk,” said Revilla.

Once children get into a vehicle, Revilla said they often do not have the skills to get out. “We leave children unaccompanied in motor vehicles every day for a variety of reasons, not knowing of the risks of leaving them alone,” said Revilla.

“Through education and legislation, the injuries and deaths caused by the dangerous practice of leaving children unattended in motor vehicles can be greatly reduced. Parents, relatives or guardians should always be made aware that unsupervised children in a motor vehicle pose a great threat to their safety and unnecessary emotional burden to their families,” said Macapagal-Arroyo.

House approves proposed "Philippine Qualifications Framework Act"

THE House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Bill 6572 which seeks to institutionalize the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) that would put in place an integrated system of quality education and training to address the mismatch in jobs and skills and generate employment.

The proposed “PQF Act” was sponsored on the floor by the committee on higher and technical education chaired by Rep. Ann Hofer (2nd District, Zamboanga Sibugay), who is also an author of the bill along with Reps. Sherwin Tugna (Party-list, Cibac), Evelina Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon), and Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Jr., (2nd District, Camarines Sur).

Pursuant to the constitutional guarantee for the State to promote the right of all citizens to quality and accessible education at all levels, the bill provides that the State shall establish, maintain and support a complete, adequate and integrated system of education relevant to the needs of the people and society.

In recognition of the important role of education and training in national development, the bill declares it is the policy of the State to institutionalize the PQF to encourage lifelong learning of individuals and provide employees specific training standards and qualifications aligned with industry standards.

The State shall also ensure that training and educational institutions comply with specific standards and are accountable for achieving corresponding learning outcomes.

The bill provides for the establishment of a PQF which shall describe the levels of educational qualifications and sets the standards for qualification outcomes.

The PQF shall have the following objectives: support the development and maintenance of pathways and equivalencies which provide access to qualifications and assist people to move easily and readily between the different education and training sectors and between these sectors and the labor market; and align the PQF with international qualifications to support the national and international mobility of workers through increased recognition of the value and comparability of Philippine qualifications.

Furthermore, the bill mandates the establishment of the PQF-National Coordinating Council that will harmonize and promote seamless education and training system.

The PQF-NCC shall be composed of the Secretary of Education as chairperson, and the Secretary of Labor and Employment, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General, Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Chairperson and one representative of the economic sector as members.

Among the powers of the PQF-NCC are: harmonize qualification levels across basic, technical vocational and higher education; rationalize the quality assurance mechanisms in the country’s education; maintain the national registry of qualifications; ensure the international alignment of the PQF with the qualification frameworks of other countries or regions; and represent the country in international fora or negotiations in line with qualifications agreements or arrangements.

The bill requires the DepEd, TESDA, and the CHED to make detailed description for each qualification level based on learning standards in basic education, competency standards of training regulations and the policy standards of higher education academic programs. The DOLE shall provide the pertinent labor market information on the highly in-demand and emerging occupations as bases for prioritization.

The bill mandates the PRC and the CHED to review the framework and contents of licensure examinations of each of the professions and align them with the PQF.

It also mandates the PRC, DOLE, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and other related agencies to extend the necessary support and relevant inputs towards the effective implementation of the PQF.

Other authors of the bill are Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, Reps. Karlo Alexei Nograles, Juan Pablo Bondoc, Ramon Durano, Mark Go, Mercedes Cagas, Pablo Ortega and Federico Sandoval, among others.

House approves bill expropriating lands for socialized housing

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill seeking to strengthen the right of government to expropriate lands for socialized housing.

The approved House Bill 159 or “An Act Strengthening the Right Of Government To Expropriate Lands For Socialized Housing” is principally authored by Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City).

The bill seeks to amend Sections 9, 10, and 11 of Republic Act No. 7279, otherwise known as the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992,” by granting local government units (LGUs) the power to identify and prioritize areas to be acquired as sites for socialized housing.

It provides LGUs with the power to identify and prioritize areas to be acquired or the proper agency acquiring land for socialized housing.

However, LGUs shall give budgetary priority to on-site development of government lands to be converted into housing sites.

The areas that could be converted into sites for socialized housing include those owned by the government or any of its subdivision, alienable lands of the public domain, unregistered or abandoned and idle lands and those declared areas of priority development, zonal improvement program sites, and slum improvement and resettlement program locations.

While the bill allows the expropriation of lands, even if ownership is still the subject of a pending court litigation, it exempts parcels of land owned by “small property owners” from acquisition by the local government.

Private lands and locations of the Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services (BLISS) housing which have not yet been acquired may also be converted as sites for socialized housing.

The modes of land acquisition provided for in the bill are community mortgage, land swapping, land assembly or consolidation, land banking, donation to the government, joint venture agreement, negotiated purchase and expropriation.

Government-owned and foreclosed properties shall be acquired by the LGUs or by the National Housing Authority (NHA) primarily through negotiated purchase. Qualified beneficiaries who are actual occupants of the land shall be given the right of first refusal.    

Other authors of the bill are Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu (2nd District, Batangas), Reps. Xavier Jesus Romualdo (Lone District, Camiguin), Joseph Stephen Paduano (Party-list, Abang Lingkod), Strike Revilla (2nd District, Cavite), Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), Rodrigo Abellanosa (2nd District, Cebu City), and Joaquin Chipeco (2nd District, Laguna).

Blood Type in ID cards endorsed

The House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading House Bill 1530 which mandates all government agencies to indicate the blood type of the individual applying for an identification card, certificate and license.

The bill states it is the policy of the the State to protect and promote the right of health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

In order to achieve this goal, the State shall implement measures that would ensure the safety of lives during disasters and medical emergency situations.

Rep. Alexandria Gonzales (Lone District, Mandaluyong City), principal author of the bill, said knowing one’s blood type is crucial for both the recipient and the donor for the immediate transfusion of the appropriate blood during medical emergency situations.

She said accidents and other medical emergency situations could affect and happen to everyone. “In case of emergency, which results in excessive blood loss, there is immediate matching so the correct blood type may be transfused in order to save the life of the victim,” Gonzales said.

The measure states government-issued documents that shall bear the blood type of an individual are the identification card issued by the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).


Likewise, passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the professional identification card issued by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) shall show the same.

Furthermore, the blood type of the individual shall be indicated in the birth certificate issued by the Local Registrar’s Office or the Philippine Statistic Authority (PSA) as well as in the driver’s license issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Aside from these, firearms license issued by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other certificates, licenses or identification documents that have yet to be issued by agencies to be created after the effectivity of the Act shall also bear the blood type of the individual.

The measure requires the individual to secure a certificate from a pathologist to validate the individual’s blood type.

The amount necessary for the implementation of this Act shall be charged to the appropriations or corporate funds of the implementing agencies and corporations.

The bill tasks the Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with all concerned government implementing agencies and corporations, to formulate the rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this Act within 90 days from its effectivity.

Authors of the bill are House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Mark Villar, Gary Alejano, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Linabelle Ruth Villarica, Manuel Jose Dalipe, Gus Tambunting, Ma. Lucille Nava,Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Raul Del Mar, Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo, Joey Sarte Salceda, Celso Lobregat, Francis Gerald Abaya, Isagani Amatong, Arlene Arcillas, Leopoldo Bataoil, Wilfredo Caminero, Cecilia Leonila Chavez, Arthur Defensor Jr, Harry Roque, Rogelio Neil Roque, Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Estrellita Suansing, Jose Tejada, Raul Tupas, Divina Grace Yu, Karlo Alexei Nograles, and Juan Pablo Bondoc.

Solon bats for Marawi reconstruction bonds in small and large denominations so that OFWs and the middle class can also invest
(Rep Ron Salo’s reaction to the statement of the DBM secretary)

The budget requirements for rebuilding Marawi are simply too big to be loaded on the national budget in one or a few tranches. Reconstruction bonds are really the way to spread out the cost over many years while getting the funds in the present and near term. We need those funds soon, not later.

The details of computing how much is needed, the terms and conditions will be the tasks of the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance and National Economic and Development Authority. Our role in Congress is to make sure government is circumspect, has the diligence of a good father, and adheres to proper accounting, auditing, and oversight.

The P30 billion worth of debt securities that the DoF considers issuing might be too small for the magnitude of work that needs to be done. There should be a master plan that should not simply focus on Marawi, but also connect it to Iligan City, Cotabato City, and the rest of Mindanao, so the city would be an integral part of Mindanao and national development.

I trust that NEDA shall immediately facilitate the preparation of that Master Plan for the rehabilitation which shall involve all relevant stakeholders, particularly the Maranaos. Also, let us ensure that the learnings we acquired in the Tacloban rehabilitation will guide us in facilitating our current efforts.

The bonds will give all who invest in them, both local and foreign investors, the opportunity to be direct stakeholders in the future of Marawi, Mindanao, and in peace and progress for the while country.

I suggest to the DBM, DoF, and NEDA that the bonds also have small denominations to allow middle class Filipinos and Overseas Filipino to be among the investors.

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STATEMENTS:

Statement of Rep. Ruffy Biazon, Senior Vice Chair of the House Committee on National Defense and Security, on the Neutralization of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.

October 16, 2017

At the outset, I would like to congratulate the officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for this accomplishment which will bring peace closer to Marawi in particular and the Country in general. Oorah and Hooah to the soldiers of the Republic!

The neutralization of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute is a significant blow dealt by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the terrorist groups. In eliminating the top leaders, the strategic decision making and direction of the terrorists will be impaired, giving the AFP an advantage in going after the rest of the group which may experience a setback due to the leadership vacuum. The AFP should exploit this opportunity.

Of course it must be realized that this may be a temporary window of opportunity because successors may soon take over, unless those potential leaders are likewise neutralized or the pressure on the terrorists sustained enough to prevent them from reorganizing.

With the conflict in Marawi nearing the end and the mission almost accomplished, the government must prepare for the return of the troops, paying particular attention to their mental health.

The trauma and stress of the protracted battle the likes of which has never been seen before by our soldiers has surely taken its toll on those who fought against the terrorists. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has surely afflicted many of our soldiers and they need the appropriate mental health care as they return from the conflict. Beyond giving them a hero's welcome, we must ensure that they return to regular life with a normal state of mind.

The rise and drop in a President's approval ratings are bound to happen in the course of his/her term. It is part of the territory. It reflects the pulse of the people at a particular time. A drop though does not mean erosion of public support but merely a sentiment on particular policies.

But the job of a president is not to make popular decisions. He should make decisions for the greater good though unpopular. I had to endure this process myself when I made tough and unpopular decisions that ultimately redounded to the common good.

After a whole year of stratospheric ratings, the President should not be unduly worried by the drop in his ratings for the 3rd quarter of the year. This is a blip, especially because the survey was taken at the height of the controversy over so-called EJK’s in the war against drugs.

During my term, I too suffered even more serious problems with my ratings, precipitated by the same kind of vicious opposition now working to bring down President Duterte. I responded by focusing instead on performance, performance, performance. It was my intention to leave a real legacy of achievement, because it was only the judgment of history that mattered to me.

The President has started several historic initiatives that too will comprise his real legacy. I refer to his initiatives on comprehensive tax reform, infrastructure buildout, Charter change, and securing and rebuilding Marawi city. All of them can produce major changes early enough to improve his ratings by early next year.

Press Release
Office of Rep. Gary Alejano
Magdalo Party-List
Oct 16, 2017

STATEMENT OF MAGDALO REP. ALEJANO ON THE DEATH OF TERRORISTS ISNILON HAPILON AND OMAR MAUTE

Ang pagkakapatay kay Omar Maute at Isnilon Hapilon ay isang maliwanag na tagumpay sa ating AFP at sa ating bansa laban sa terorismo. Nais kong pasalamatan at saluduhan ang ating Secretary of National Defense Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff General Año, mga opisyales at mga tropa sa kanilang pagpupursige na wakasan ang krisis sa Marawi sa pamamagitan ng pag-alay ng kanilang buhay at serbisyo. To those who went ahead, my snappy salute. You will forever be remembered. You did not die in vain.

In view of recent event, I hope that the lifting of martial law in the whole of Mindanao be considered sooner than later, as also promised by the President. Rehabilitation of Marawi City must also commence the soonest possible time. These are critical factors in restoring the normalcy in the area. Ang hangad po natin ay makabalik na ang ating mga kapatid na Maranao sa kanilang mga tahanan at makapagsimula ng bagong buhay.

Subalit, hindi matatapalan ng imprastruktura at kabuhayan ang sugat ng giyera sa kanilang mga puso. Ang ugat ng paghihimagsik ay dapat masusing tignan at matugunan ng ating gobyerno. Healing and not division, good governance rather than war, livelihood rather than bullets and bombs, understanding rather than curses and threats.

Ganun pa man, alam kong hindi nagtatapos sa Marawi ang banta sa seguridad sa ating bansa. The government should continue to support and equip our soldiers to lessen our casualties in battle. This is the time when we need all the support from our allies rather than isolate ourselves.

I call on the President to be the instrument of peace, stability, unity and progress. Ilagay niya ang kanyang tapang sa lugar dahil ang napakaraming problema sa bansa ay hindi nadadaan at nalulutas sa giyera, patayan, at pananakot. Hindi rin nito matatabunan ang mga isyu ng kurapsyon, unfitness at inefficiency.

Statement of Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento on the death of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute

The death of Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon and looming defeat of the remaining terrorists in Marawi City is a true reminder that good will always triumph against evil. Although their death came at a heavy price and has left an indelible scar that would haunt the people of Marawi for many years to come, it has also defined the  character of our men and women  in the Armed Forces of the Philippines who unselfishly sacrificed their lives to liberate the city from these mindless thugs.

We can never measure the courage, the dedication and selflessness that was demonstrated by our soldiers and they should be commended for a job well done. They have shown to the whole world that even without modern weapons, our soldiers have the unrelenting valor and resolve to complete their mission, even it means losing their lives. For this, we are truly grateful.

I really hope and pray that after this dark episode in our history, our brothers and sisters who still embrace the twisted ideals of Maute and Hapilon should realize by now that they are fighting for the wrong side and for the wrong reason.  Maute and Hapilon died without honor and would forever be regarded as true enemies of Islam.They hoped to be martyred but in the end, even their own people despised them for destroying a historic Islamic city.

Now it's time to start picking up the pieces and start rebuilding, and healing Marawi City.

Press Release
Office of Rep. Gary Alejano
Magdalo Party-List
Oct 17, 2017

Statement on the liberation of Marawi City

Aking pinapaabot sa ating sandatahang lakas ang saludo at pasasalamat sa inyong pinakitang kagitingan at katapangan. The liberation of Marawi City today is a testament of your undying love and service for our country. I especially give my respect to our soldiers who  passed away and who offered the extreme sacrifice in line of duty.

After the liberation of Marawi City, another long and serious work begins – bringing back the glory of the city. The rehabilitation of Marawi City should have a comprehensive, multi-agency plan in order to properly address all fronts.  Provision of basic needs, building of houses and infrastructures, and return of economic activity are things that must be acted upon immediately. Psychological services should also be provided for the residents and soldiers who have been in the frontlines and have endured the conflict on the ground.

I hope that the rehabilitation would be swift and reliable. We do not want to add more sufferings to the people of Marawi. May all of us in the government and civil society offer our helping hands to our Maranao brothers and sisters.

Aside from the rehabilitation, I also reiterate my call for the government to identify and understand the root cause of the Marawi crisis. Terrorism is a global problem which needs our urgent attention. Likewise, continued support for our armed forces is imperative in order to respond to various security threats that we may face in the future.

STATEMENT BY THE
HONORABLE RON P. SALO
KABAYAN Party-list
Assistant Majority Leader

WIN THE PEACE, ADOPT A SCHOOL

KABAYAN Party-list congratulates the Armed Forces of the Philippines on accomplishing the first part of the mission to liberate Marawi City from the hands of the Maute terrorists.

Now that no less than the Commander-in Chief President Rodrigo Duterte has declared “Marawi City liberated from terrorist influence,” the next phase of the mission is to win the peace and assure the rebuilding and progress of the battle-torn city and restore its residents’ confidence.

We must now come together to mobilize all the resources needed for the rebuilding efforts.

Priorities are basic health services, education, and governance.

In line with this, KABAYAN Party-list would like to adopt a school and build one or two classrooms especially for grade school students.

KABAYAN Party-list will coordinate with officials on the ground and community leaders and national officials on the particulars.

Also let me once again urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives, as I expressed in House Resolution 1083 that I filed in June, to express our collective support and commendation to the men and women of the AFP and the Philippine National Police in their valiant efforts and heroic deeds in order to uphold peace, order, and security in Marawi City and the whole Island of Mindanao.

KABAYAN PARTY-LIST “MAG-AAMPON” NG ESKWELAHAN SA MARAWI BILANG KONGKRETONG TULONG

Matapos ideklara ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na malaya na ang lungsod ng Marawi mula sa mga teroristang Maute, nakiisa sa panawagang rehabilitasyon ng Pangulo si KABAYAN Party-list Congressman Ron Salo.

Sabi ni Salo na isa sa mga lider ng Kamara bilang Assistant Majority Leader, prayoridad sa rehabilitasyon ang pagsasaayos ng mga pampublikong paaralan at bahay-pamahalaan na nasira dahil sa mahigit limang buwang bakbakan.

“Dahil dyan, mag-aampon ng eskwelahan ang KABAYAN Party-list at tutustusan namin ang pagpapatayo ng isa o dalawang classroom na pang-grade-school bilang kongkretong tulong sa mga kababayan nating nasalanta ng digmaan,” ani Salo.

Makikipag-ugnayan din si Salo sa mga community leaders ng Marawi at sa mga national agencies kung paano mabilis na maisasakatuparan ang planong ayuda ng KABAYAN Party-list.

Si Salo ang may akda ng House Resolution 1083 na humihimok sa mga kapwa mambabatas sa Kamara na bigyang papuri ang mga sundalo at pulis na nagtaguyod ng kapayapaan at seguridad sa Marawi City at sa buong Mindanao.

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IILAN LAMANG PO IYON SA MGA IMPORMASYONG ATING NAKALAP SA KAMARA DE REPRESENTANTES NITONG NAKARAANG MGA ARAW.

MAGANDANG UMAGA PILIPINAS, MAGANDANG UMAGA KATROPA, AT MAGANDANG UMAGA SA LAHAT NG ATING MGA TAGAPAKINIG!

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YES, TERENCE MORDENO GRANA PO ANG INYONG LINGKOD, ANG INYONG KAAGAPAY AT GABAY SA ATING PALATUNTUNAN.

AT KUNG NAIS PO NINYONG MAKIPAG-TALASTASAN O MERON MAN PO KAYONG MGA REAKSIYON AT SUHESTIYON HINGGIL SA ATING MGA PAKSA, TUMAWAG LAMANG O DIDI KAYA AY MAG-TEXT SA MOBILE PHONE NUMBER: 0905 457 7102.

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OKEY, NARITO NA PO ANG ATING NAKALAP NA MGA IMPORMASYON MULA SA KAMARA DE REPRESENTANTES, KABUUAN NG ATING MGA BALITA:

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(INSTITUTIONAL MESSAGES)

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SA ATING PAGBABALIK, KAYO PO AY NAKIKINIG SA PATATUNTUNANG KATROPA SA KAMARA NI TERENCE MORDENO GRANA DITO LAMANG SA HIMPILANG DWDD, KATROPA RADIO, AT TAYO AY SINASAMAHAN NI ENGINEER (RONALD ANGELES, DEXTER ORATA OR LEONOR NATAP) SA ATING TECHNICAL SIDE.
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MARAMING SALAMAT AT KAMI PO AY INYONG PINAHINTULUTANG PUMASOK SA INYONG MGA TAHANAN SA PAMAMAGITAN NG ATING PALATUNTUNANG KATROPA SA KAMARA.

BAGO TAYO MAGTAPOS NG ATING PALATUNTUNAN, BATIIN KO MUNA SINA: Dennis at Joanna Melarpis, Cecille Figueroa, Eloisa Lomeda ng Bills and Index Service ng House of Representatives; sina Lumon Ray Mordeno, Oscar Cadenas, aking mga kapatid na sina Edmund, Edith and Jing ng Brisbane, Australia; Ehm, Orland, Myra and Willie ng Jabonga, ADN; those who are listening via live streaming sa internet, wwwdotdwdddotcomdotph, sa Facebook wwwdotfacebookdotcom @dwdd1134 at sa Twitter #Katropa; and everybody.

DAGHANG SALAMAT PUD SA ATONG MGA KAHIGALAANG MGA BISAYA NGA NAMINAW KANATO KARONG TAKNAA.

ITO PO ANG INYONG LINGKOD – KINI ANG INYONG KABUS NGA SULUGUON, TERENCE MORDENO GRANA.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

20171014 News Releases

NEWS RELEASES
Pinoy nurses, lagpak sa English exam sa UK; CHED, hinimok umaksiyon
House ready to defend its TRAIN version in bicam
AGRI partylist Rep Salon bats for swift passage of Urban Agri Act
Committee approves bill promoting urban agriculture

STATEMENTS:
Statement of former Pres Macapagal-Arroyo on Pres Duterte’s latest SWS survey:
Rep Harry Roque on the rejection of Paulyn Ubial as DOH Secretary
Solon urges suspect Trangia to be faithful to the truth (Rep Ron P. Salo
If Trangia tells the truth, we shall not have wasted his young life (Rep Bernadette “BH” Herrera-Dy)
First law on Mental Health likely to be signed this year (Rep Ron Salo)
Philippine Economy, nasa mabuting kamay ng Duterte admin
Rep Henry Ong urges DTI to ready IRR on non-expiry of gift checks in time for Christmas 2017
PhilHealth ‘financial trouble’ risks implementation of universal health care – Sato
LIYAB kicks off in the House
Travel tax exempt to kids of OFWs pushed
More accessible Venue for libel hearings pushed
Bill creating arboretum in Lanao del Norte gets support
TADECO contract highly onerous: Speaker Alvarez

PHOTO CAPTIONS:
MEETING THE PRESS
LIYAB
TULONG TRABAHO
YOLANDA HOUSING ANOMALIES
CONSUMER PROTECTION
COMELEC TIMELINE
LAWLESS LAW ENFORCERS
ONEROUS TADECO CONTRACT
DOT OR LGU RESPONSIBILITY
COMELEC CHAIR IMPEACHED

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Pinoy nurses, lagpak sa English exam sa UK; CHED, hinimok umaksiyon

Hinimok ni Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep Bernadette Herrera-Dy ang Commission on Higher Education (CHED) na aksyunan ang tila paghina ng kahusayan ng mga Pilipino nursing graduates sa wikang Ingles.

Nitong Setyembre, 52 sa 59 na Pilipinong nurses na ni-recruit sa Maynila para magtrabaho sa isang ospital sa United Kingdom (UK) ang lumagpak sa English language test kaya’t di sila makapag-uumpisa sa pangarap nilang trabaho.

Ikinalungkot ng mambabatas ang naunsiyaming pangarap ng mga Pinoy nurse at hinimok ang CHED na gumawa ng hakbang para tiyaking di na mauulit ang kahalintulad na pangyayari.

“Makikipagpulong ako sa mga dekano ng nursing schools at mga opisyal ng CHED para maisa-isa namin ang mga hakbang na pwedeng gawin pati na para matukoy kung may mga patakaran ba na dapat isulong sa Kongreso para matulungan ang ating mga nursing students at graduates para mapahusay ang kanilang kakayahan sa banyagang wika,” ani Herrera-Dy, Chair ng House Committee on Public Information.

Makikipagpulong din ang kongresista sa mga opisyal ng Department of Education para matugunan ang problema [sa English competencies] sa antas pa lang ng basic education.

Ayon sa tala, humigit-kumulang 80,000 estudyante ang nagtatapos ng kursong nursing kada taon habang humigit-kumulang 25,000 naman ang kumukuha ng nursing board exams kada taon.

Sa tala ng Professional Regulations Commission, “"3,882 out of 11,176 passed the Nurse Licensure Examination given by the Board of Nursing in the cities of Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legazpi, Lucena, Pagadian, Tacloban, Tuguegarao and Zamboanga this June 2017."

Nakatakdang idaos ang nursing board exams sa darating na November 25 at 26.

Naiulat na kung pumasa sana ang mga nurses sa naturang exam, tatangap sila ng "£3,000 recruitment and retention bonus paid over 26 months, flexible working hours, and a relocation loan.” Ang nasabing halaga ay katumbas ng P204,000 (P68 = 1 British pound)

House ready to defend its TRAIN version in bicam

Members of the House of Representatives have expressed readiness to defend and stand up for the chamber’s version of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill when they meet the senators in the bicameral conference committee to hammer out the final version of the measure.

Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua Lone District, Quirino, chairman of the committee on ways and means, said during the House bi-monthly media briefing that the House panel has done its part in studying well the House version of the TRAIN and is ready to defend the chamber’s position in the bicam committee.

 “What I can say is when we go to the bicam, of course we have done our research, we’ve done our studies on the revenue projections, the impact on the economy and industry, and consumers,” said Cua.

He urged their counterparts in the Senate to bring their notes as well in terms of impact on the economy and consumers, and the revenue projections so that they can discuss based on those parameters and not just what it looks like on paper.

“So, sana pagdating sa bicam ganun ang usapan, ano ang revenue niyan, ano ang revenue nito, bakit ganyan, may impact ba sa industriya at may impact ba sa consumer? And then we can find probably an optimal level,” said Cua.

Cua said what he personally likes in the House version is the P250,000 automatic tax free for each tax payer.

 “I don't really think it's putting Congress in a bad light as some of the good features of the House version were highlighted,” said Cua.

Cua said everything is open for discussion as the tradition sets. But he stressed the only one limitation is the fact that all new tax measures must emanate from the House.

“Therefore, if there is a proposed new measure from the Senate, we will have to look into the legality of it. Kaya dun lang kami mag-iingat siguro. On my part, duon ko gustong mag-ingat, in the sense na dapat lahat ng tax measures, it's either an existing tax measure in the tax code or already in the bill as forwarded by the Congress to the Senate,” said Cua.

Cua said while it is possible that President Duterte may veto the TRAIN if the original administration proposal to Congress is not approved, it would be better to just wait for developments in the bicameral conference committee.

“Yes, there is a possibility he will do that. But I think we’ll see first what happens (in the bicam). I think generally, it's the positive step forward. As long the net is above, it's still a positive step forward. But of course the possibility is there, the President may always veto if he sees that if it's the wrong policy for the country, then he can always do so,” said Cua.

So far, Cua said he and Senator Edgardo Angara, have not yet met about the details of the Senate’s TRAIN report. “In fact, I've only asked the ways and means committee staff to get a copy of the report and try to make a comparison between what the House has passed compared to the Senate version,” he said.

Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City), chairman of the committee on appropriations, expressed confidence that the House committee on ways and means can ably defend the House version of the TRAIN.

“The ball is in the hands of the committee on ways and means when they go to bicam. Hopefully they will be able to fight for the desired projections, because that was the basis when the budget was drafted and sent to the House,” said Nograles.

Nograles said it is unfortunate that per the computations of the Department of Finance, the Senate TRAIN version could only collect about P59.9 billion. Whereas, the House version is set to collect P133 billion.

“So, malaki yung diperensya. Kung ganun ang magiging version at totoo yung estimates ng DOF, it will have an effect on the debt that would be incurred by the government. So, we're still set, obviously we passed a budget bill that is supposed to spend P3.767 trillion, hindi po magbabago yan. And it is not good practice and it is not sound policy for us to change what has already been approved by Congress,” said Nograles.

If the tax reform package does not yield the desired income which was supposedly based on the House members’ projections of P133.8 billion, Nograles said the government would be forced to increase its debt borrowings.

“Kung ano yung hindi natin na-collect, yun ang kailangan nating dagdag na uutangin, dagdag sa borrowings natin,” said Nograles.

AGRI partylist Rep Salon bats for swift passage of Urban Agri Act

AGRI Party-list Representative Orestes T. Salon on Tuesday expressed hope that the substitute bill for the Integrated Urban Agriculture Act will be swiftly approved by the plenary to avert a possible crisis brought about by food insecurity.

The Committee on Food Security has decided to endorse a bill consolidating all the measures with the same subject to the plenary for second reading.

Salon is the principal author of HB No. 4337, one of the bills consolidated therein.

He said that with the Philippines ranking poorly in the 2017 Global Food Security Index recently released by the Economist Intelligence Unit, it was imperative that Congress does its part in laying a proper policy platform to achieve food security.

The report revealed that out of the 113 countries ranked by the EIU, the Philippines garnered a score of 47.3 and placed 79th. In Asia Pacific, the Philippines was 17th out of the 23 countries assessed.

The EIU considered three core pillars of food security—affordability, availability and quality and safety in its assessment.

In terms of the three pillars of food security, the Philippines ranked 77th on affordability, 80th on availability and 69th in quality and safety.

"The urgency of addressing our nation's food security should guide us in our actions," Salon said.

Salon said that the Integrated Urban Agriculture Act, if harmonized with massive support for nationwide agriculture, could help improve the country's food supply.

Under the bill, an Office of Urban Agriculture shall be established by the Department of Agriculture.

The Office shall have the following powers and functions:

"a) Formulate the implementing guidelines, programs and operating principles consistent with government policies and the objectives of this Act;

b) Study and make recommendations regarding the impact of urban agriculture and vertical farming in metropolitan communities;

c) Carry out the implementation of this Act; and

d) Submit and report to Congress its findings and recommendations.

The OUA is also tasked with developing the research agenda on urban agriculture in the country's metropolitan areas, in coordination with the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Department of Health.

Idle and/or abandoned government lots and buildings owned by either the national or local governments, or available land within state colleges and universities will be considered for use in urban agriculture.

The program also encourages the use of indigenous materials for agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and agricultural machinery and other implements.

Local governments will also be required  to formulated policies on the practice of hrban agriculture and on utilizing urban spaces, unused spaces, and idle lands, consistent with existing policy on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and zoning ordinances. The designated spaces, however, shall not be prime lots or areas suitable for investments.

Local government units in cities and urban areas shall also be required to enact local legislation institutionalizing urban agriculture as a regular component in the annual appropriations of the concerned LGUs.

If passed, urban agriculture shall also be included in the academic curriculum for elementary, secondary, and tertiary level students of both public and private schools. A course curriculum on urban gardening shall meanwhile be developed and included in the regular curriculum of both elementary and secondary levels.

Urban agriculture shall also form part of the required period dedicated to the National Service Training Program or the Citizens Military training in universities and colleges.

A nationwide information campaign will also be conducted by the OUA with the assistance of the Philippine Information Agency to raise public awareness.

Salon added that besides helping bridge the gaps in the country's food supply, urban agriculture could positively impact employment and income generation for urban settlers.

Committee approves bill promoting urban agriculture

The House special committee on food security chaired by Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva (2ndDistrict, Negros Occidental) on Tuesday approved a substitute bill seeking to promote integrated urban agricultural development in all metropolitan areas nationwide to address food security concerns.

The unnumbered bill titled “Integrated Urban Agriculture Act” substituted House Bills 2818, 4337, 4354 and 4422 authored by Reps. Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija), Orestes Salon (Party-list, Agri), Michael Romero Ph.D. (Party-list, PBA), and Harlin Neil Abayon III (Party-list, Aangat Tayo), respectively.

Suansing said the bill seeks to institutionalize integrated urban farming in the highly urbanized cities and municipalities nationwide. This in turn will help address food security concerns and regenerate ecosystem functions.

Suansing, chairperson of the committee on ecology, said world population has been projected to double in 50 years. Relatedly, studies have shown that new land will be needed to grow enough food for everyone, she said.

“Urban agriculture and vertical farming will not only clean our environment and further avoid climate change, but also provide residents with safer, healthier food, at the same time keep farmers in business. Furthermore, urban agriculture and vertical farming will help reduce poverty,” said Suansing.

Salon said that while the Philippines was hailed as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia for gaining 6.9 percent domestic growth product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2016, there is undeniable food shortage in the country as shown by its dismal ranking of 74th among 109 countries studied in the 2015 Global Food Security Index.

“Urban agriculture is a food-producing activity that is community-based and would definitely help an urban area in its quest for sustainable development,” said Salon.

The bill declares it is the policy of the State to reaffirm the fundamental right of every person to adequate food and be free from hunger. As such, the achievement of self-sufficiency and
sustainability in food production and security is hence adopted as a primary State policy.

Toward this end, the State shall develop climate change resilient communities in the metropolitan areas through the promotion of modern, appropriate, cost-effective and environmentally safe agriculture technologies to ensure food security, promote a healthy citizenry, and advance an improved quality of life for urban dwellers.

The measure defines integrated urban agriculture as the development paradigm that encompasses principles, management, technologies, and the policies relating to the practice and application of agricultural production of food and goods in urban areas.

It refers to food security as a situation wherein foods are available and affordable at all times and where all people have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

The bill provides that urban agriculture shall apply to all urban spaces such as idle, government or private lots or buildings, available land resources in state or private universities and colleges suitable for growing crops and raising poultry and livestock, and for agriculture.

It mandates the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary to establish an office to be known as the Office of Urban Agriculture (OUA) to be under the DA. The OUA shall formulate the implementing guidelines, programs and operating principles consistent with government policies and objectives of the Act.

It also mandates the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) to monitor and ensure proper implementation of the Act. The PCAF shall have as members the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Chairperson, Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) Chairperson, representative from the private sector who has expertise in urban farming and vertical farming, and Lead Convenor of the Urban Agriculture Practitioners Network of the Philippines.

The PCAF shall ensure that programs established by the Act are implemented in ways consistent with the goal of poverty reduction, food security and healthy eating habits in urban communities.

Meanwhile the OUA, in coordination with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the DOH shall develop the research agenda on urban agriculture in the country’s metropolitan areas.

Idle and/or abandoned government lots and buildings owned by either the national government or local governments or available land resources in state colleges and universities shall be considered for growing crops, raising livestock, and producing food.

Safety standards, good agricultural practices, and handling practices must be emphasized and promoted at all times. The OUA, DOST, DENR, DOH, and the local government units (LGUs), together with the pertinent agencies shall oversee the promotion of agriculture and minimize risks of microbial food hazards.

The bill also mandates the inclusion of urban agriculture in the academic curriculum for elementary, secondary and tertiary level students of both public and pivate academic institutions offering courses in Agriculture, Practical Arts, Home Economics and other agriculture-related subjects. A course curriculum on gardening shall be developed and included in the regular curriculum of elementary and
secondary education.

For universities and colleges, urban agriculture shall form part of the required period of time spent by students in the National Service Training Program or the Citizens Military Training.

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STATEMENTS:

Statement of former Pres Macapagal-Arroyo on Pres Duterte’s latest SWS survey:

The rise and drop in a President's approval ratings are bound to happen in the course of his/her term. It is part of the territory. It reflects the pulse of the people at a particular time. A drop though does not mean erosion of public support but merely a sentiment on particular policies.

But the job of a president is not to make popular decisions. He should make decisions for the greater good though unpopular. I had to endure this process myself when I made tough and unpopular decisions that ultimately redounded to the common good.

After a whole year of stratospheric ratings, the President should not be unduly worried by the drop in his ratings for the 3rd quarter of the year. This is a blip, especially because the survey was taken at the height of the controversy over so-called EJK’s in the war against drugs.

During my term, I too suffered even more serious problems with my ratings, precipitated by the same kind of vicious opposition now working to bring down President Duterte. I responded by focusing instead on performance, performance, performance. It was my intention to leave a real legacy of achievement, because it was only the judgment of history that mattered to me.

The President has started several historic initiatives that too will comprise his real legacy. I refer to his initiatives on comprehensive tax reform, infrastructure buildout, Charter change, and securing and rebuilding Marawi city. All of them can produce major changes early enough to improve his ratings by early next year.

Rep Harry Roque on the rejection of Paulyn Ubial as DOH Secretary

I welcome the decision of the Commission on Appointments to reject the ad interim appointment of Dr. Paulyn Ubial as Secretary of Health.

We averted a major public health disaster with the non-confirmation of Ubial. The DOH deserves a decisive leader and I call on President Duterte to appoint an exceptional doctor with proven managerial skills to head the DOH.

The success of universal health care and all other health reforms of the administration lies in the hands of the next DOH Secretary. Let us not blow the opportunity the second time around.

Solon urges suspect Trangia to be faithful to the truth (Rep Ron P. Salo

It is good that he has come back home to respond to calls for justice for his fraternity brother and his friend.

It is good he has given way to the stirrings of his consciences. Perhaps he listened to wise counsel from family and friends.

May he face the music, directly respond to the issues, answer the questions by being faithful to the truth and to the memory of Atio Castillo.

As member of the House Justice Committee, I call on the other suspects to surface also and cooperate with authorities. If they are free from culpability, there is nothing to fear as the truth shall protect them.

As to culpability or liability, let the Department of Justice and the courts determine that.

The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but they do grind on.

If Trangia tells the truth, we shall not have wasted his young life (Rep Bernadette “BH” Herrera-Dy)

Ralph Trangia is a young man. He has his whole life ahead of him. This particular episode in his life is his true coming of age. Standing for what is right, true, and just is what is truly meant by being human.

Trangia can still recover from this debacle and look forward to the future if he speaks the truth and honors the memory of Horacio “Atio” Castillo, III.

As principal author of the Revised Anti-Hazing Bill in the House of Representatives, my specific interest in this is to see if the provisions of the anti-hazing bill can address the particular circumstances of the Atio Castillo case.

Also, I want to know if the old anti-hazing law is enough to secure justice for Atio.

If either the current law or the bill pressing through Congress can bring the Atio hazing cohorts to justice, then Congress was able to do its part.

I shall keep following this case very closely.

First law on Mental Health likely to be signed this year (Rep Ron Salo)

Only last Thursday, September 28, another young Filipino committed suicide. She reportedly jumped from the seventh floor restroom window of her school in Carbon in Cebu.

Two days later September 30, a lady call center agent died as car fell from Manila building; police have yet to rule the case as suicide.

Some personal problems are the apparent proximate causes according to news reports, but as the experts would say, suicide is a complex issue and needs to be addressed professionally and with sensitive care beyond the immediate apparent cause.

In order to address the rising incidence of mental disorder, I authored HB 1040, a measure seeking to address the lack of a law to specifically address the mental health of Filipinos through a comprehensive mental health program.

It passed second reading in the House of Representatives today and will most likely be approved on third and final reading in November this year.

The Senate already has a proposed Mental Health Act (SB 1354), which passed third and final reading. If the consolidated House bill moves faster, we could have the law of mental health by early next year.

The Department of Health estimate on fatal suicide in the country is at five Filipinos everyday but that figure is considered low because of under-reporting due to social stigma attached to suicide and mental health problems.

More Filipinos can come out of the shadows of social stigma if only they knew that some mental health problems are covered by PhilHealth. Yes, there is PhilHealth coverage for mental health issues.

In September last year, a suicide prevention hotline was launched in Cebu City. The hotline is dubbed HOPELINE and is run the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation. But the hotline has had technology, personnel and budget challenges. The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation works with the Philippine Psychiatric Association on suicide prevention. HOPELINE took 3,479 calls in 2016.

Noting that suicide is quite high among teenagers and young adults and the challenges faced by the hotline launched in Cebu, I am calling on the DOH to coordinate with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to design and roll out further intervention measures the youth can connect with when they are in emotional trouble. DILG involvement in this effort is needed for the out-of-school youth. The DOH’s coordination with concerned agencies is a step prior to the full implementation of the Mental Health Act when it gets passed before the year ends.

One good example is a mobile app developed by then students of the University of the Philippines-Diliman. The students have graduated. Their brainchild was PsychUP for UP Manila.

Perhaps CHED can commission the developers of PsychUP, Chad Errol Booc and Chara Mae San Diego, to design another mobile app that can be deployed for wider use to the general population. The CHED can use the Higher Education Development Fund or their funds for research.

CONTEXT:

Assistant Majority Leader and House Committee on Health Member Ron P. Salo files House Bill 1040 or the Philippine Mental Health Law.

HB 1040 aims to address the growing mental health needs of Filipinos by formulating and institutionalizing a national mental health care delivery system that will ensure available, accessible, affordable, responsive, and high-quality mental health care services, especially the marginalized and high-risk population.

Salo, a former consultant of the Department of Health (DOH), is one with the World Health Organization (WHO) in underscoring the need for a mental health legislation to protect the rights of people with mental disorders.

In 2015, the DOH reported more than 8,000 cases of mental health disorders, with Schizophrenia comprising a large percentage at 3,457. Here were more than 2,000 cases of Bipolar Affective Disorder, followed by Psychotic Disorder and Depression. As early as 2004, the Social Weather Stations survey found that almost 1 per 100 households has a family member who has a mental disorder. WHO reported 2,558 cases of suicide in the country in 2012.

Philippine Economy, nasa mabuting kamay ng Duterte admin

(Reaksyon sa 90% pagbaba ng halaga ng mga bagong mamumuhunan: Pahayag ni Rep Frederick W. Siao , Lone District of Iligan City)

Hinimok ng isang mambabatas ang publiko na huwag mabahala sa naiulat na 90% paglagpak ng halaga ng mga bagong mamumuhunan sa bansa sa unang kalahati ng taong 2017 kumpara noong isang taon.

Paliwanag ni Iligan City Lone District Representative Frederick Siao, ang new foreign direct investment ay isa lamang sa napakaraming economic indicators.

“Ang mas angkop na batayan ng tiwala ng mga investor sa bansa ay ang galaw ng mga dati nang investor na matagal na sa Pilipinas at patuloy na namumuhunan at hindi umaalis,” ani Siao.

Paliwanag pa ni Siao, natural lang na nais munang ma-evaluate ng mga bagong investor ang isang buong taon ng Duterte administration bago sila mamuhunan. Tinitingnan ng mga investor kung paano ginagastos ang 2017 national budget at ang impact nito sa sa bansa.

Mali umanong sisihin ang mga investor sa pagsasagawa ng “due diligence” bago mamuhunan.

Para kay Siao, na may negosyo at kasapi ng House Committee on Economic Affairs, heto ang ilang mga economic indicators na magpapakitang nasa mabuting kamay ng mga economic managers ni Pangulong Duterte ang bansa:

• Gross international reserves (US$81.35 billion as of Sept. 30, 2017);

• Higher investment in debt instruments (US$3 billion Jan-June 2017);

• Higher reinvestment of earnings (US$416 million Jan-June 2017);

• Total net inflows of foreign direct investments ($3.6 billion (Jan-June 2017) though this is 14% less than the same period last year, it is still high);

• PSE Index closed above 8,300 points for the first time in its history; and

• Remittances from Overseas Filipinos ($17.9 billion from January to July 2017, up by 5.9 percent.

Ang mga datos ay mula sa pinakahuling tala ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas at Philippine Stock Exchange.

Rep Henry Ong urges DTI to ready IRR on non-expiry of gift checks in time for Christmas

The proposed Gift Check Non-Expiry Act passed the bicameral conference committee phase and could be ratified soon after Congress returns from its month-long break to consult constituents and resumes session on November 13.

I am hopeful this bill and other bills that have gone through bicam will be signed during November and be this year’s early Christmas gifts of Congress to the Filipino people.

Gift checks and its various other similar versions happen to be convenient gift choices for many. Since gift checks are like cash, Congress is now making it national law and policy to further strengthen the recognition and treatment of gift checks as like cash. Cash, in the form of paper bills, coins, and balances in bank accounts, has no expiry date and continue to be legal tender until they are phased out by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

I, as author of one of the bills that went into the making of the consolidated version of the Gift Check Non-Expiry Act, urge the Department of Trade and Industry to advise issuers of gift checks to start reducing the number of gift checks they are issuing this year to lessen the number of gift checks with expiry dates going into circulation. This way, we lessen the problems when the law is implemented.

I also urge the DTI to start work already on the IRR so the law can be implemented this Christmas 2017.

It is quite probable the DTI’s IRR will provide that gift checks issued before the effectivity of the law or of the IRR will not be covered by the prohibitions.

I reiterate my stand that the reference date should be the date of the effectivity of the law, not the effectivity of the IRR, because the date of the effectivity of the law as the reference point would be to the advantage of the consumer.

PhilHealth ‘financial trouble’ risks implementation of universal health care – Sato

Cong. Josephine Ramirez-Sato of the Lone District of Occidental Mindoro expressed alarm over the financial status of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

In a statement, Sato said the agency is operating on a net loss putting at risk the implementation of a universal health care program for all Filipinos even before the Universal Healthcare bill is enacted.

Sato noted that PhilHealth posted positive net income from 2010 – 2015.  It was only in 2016 that it posted a negative income of P1.4 billion.

She bared, however, that premium income of PhilHealth is actually overstated for 2015 and 2016 by P13 billion per year. 

This amount represents premium income for senior citizens that is collectible from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) but are actually in arrears.

"PhilHealth is only registering a positive income because it has included the P13 billion contributions from senior citizens which has not been collected for two years now,” she said.

If that is the case, Sato said PhilHealth is actually on a net loss of approximately P26.4B as of end-December last year.

“This is troublesome.  PhilHealth will play a very crucial role in providing universal health care for all Filipinos.  How can we provide the people with crucial public health care if it is running into financial troubles?” Sato, a co-author of the Universal Healthcare bill, said.

Sato wants the Department of Health (DOH) to further look into the financial status of PhilHealth and come up with a recommendation to address the problem.

Under the Universal Healthcare bill, the agency will be the "national purchaser of health services.

Sato said a competent manager not only with experience in the health sector but in sound financial management should be running PhilHealth.

A member of the Commission on Appointments (CA), Sato grilled Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial on Tuesday over a number of issues hounding PhilHealth.

Ubial’s interim appointment to the DOH was subsequently rejected by the 25-member CA.

LIYAB kicks off in the House

The House of Representatives, in celebration of the House of Representatives Month, this week held a leadership forum for the youth in recognition of its vital role in nation-building.

The event, entitled “Liyab: Awakening the Filipino Leader in You” is an endeavor of the Office of the Speaker in collaboration with the House Secretariat Offices.

In his welcome remarks, House Secretary General Atty. Cesar Pareja said the House has organized several events for the youth like the One House Internship Program and the recently concluded Bill Drafting Contest to enable them to participate more actively in the conduct of governance.

“It is said that millennials are the reason why we have not progressed much. However, we strongly disagree,” Pareja said.

Pareja pointed out the overwhelming number of applicants at the internship program and the impressive turn-out in the bill drafting contest is an indication that the millennials are the hope of the country.

“Your attendance today in this leadership forum is a form of answering the call for change we all want to see,” he said.

Office of the Speaker Head Executive Assistant and Inter-Parliamentary and Public Affairs Department (IPPAD) Officer-In-Charge Deputy Secretary General Atty. Darren de Jesus, who gave an overview of the seminar, said Liyab is a leadership forum designed to tackle various leadership aspects.

“We believe the youth of today is the country’s pool of future heroes and leaders. We want them to be heard this early,” De Jesus said.

Invited to talk at the forum were Reps. Geraldine Roman (1st District, Bataan) and Christopher De Venecia (4th District, Pangasinan) and Mr. David Jonathan Garcia.

Garcia talked about being a Filipino, Roman on sense of community while De Venecia touched on sense of purpose.

Most of the participants were students from the different schools in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces,   with the rest from government agencies, NGOs, private sector and media.

Travel tax exempt to kids of OFWs pushed

The House committee on overseas workers affairs chaired by Rep. Jesulito Manalo (Party-list, ANGKLA) has approved House Bill 6138 seeking to grant travel tax exemption to dependents of married or solo parent overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The bill seeks to amend Sections 3 and 35 of the Republic Act (RA) No. 8042, otherwise known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995”, as amended by RA No. 10022.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (1st District, Davao del Norte), principal author of the bill, said the contribution of OFWs to the country’s revenue-raising effort and economic standing, in general, is undeniably significant, with their total yearly remittances amounting to billions of pesos.

“As they have always been acknowledged, the OFWs are Philippine society’s modern-day heroes,” Alvarez said.

He said the government has as much as possible conferred upon these OFWs privileges and protection in various matters.

“This notwithstanding, there is still some void to fill as the so-called solo parent OFWs face some sort inequity in the field of taxation,” Alvarez said.

He explained that children of these single parent modern-day heroes are currently denied exemptions from travel tax, an incentive to which kids of their married counterparts are entitled as provided for under RA No. 6768, as amended.

“Considering that solo parent OFWs are as equally worthy of government recognition as those married Filipino migrant workers, this unfortunate circumstance must be remedied,” Alvarez said.

He added there should be undivided and impartial recognition of the laudable and selfless hard work of all OFWs.

The bill amends Section 3 of RA No. 8042 to read as follows: “Section 3. Definitions. – For purpose of this Act:

(A)  xxx;

(B) ‘SOLO PARENT’ AS DEFINED UNDER SECTION 3 (A) OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8972, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE “SOLO PARENTS’ WELFARE ACT OF 2000;

(C) ‘DEPENDENTS’ REFER TO THE FOLLOWING:

(1)  SPOUSE AND CHILDREN OF THE MARRIED OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKER; AND
(2)  CHILDREN OF THE SOLO PARENT OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKER.

(D) xxx

(E) xxx”

Likewise, the measure amends 35 of RA 8042 to read as follows:

“Sec. 35. Exemption from Travel Tax, Documentary Stamp Tax as Airport Fee. – All laws to the contrary notwithstanding, the migrant worker AND HIS OR HER DEPENDENTS shall be exempt from the payment of travel tax and airport fee upon showing of entitlement by the POEA.

The remittances of all overseas Filipino workers, upon showing of the same proof of entitlement by the overseas Filipino worker’s beneficiary or recipient, shall be exempt from the payment of documentary stamp tax.”

The bill states that within six months from the effectivity of the Act, the Secretary of Finance shall, upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for its effective implementation.   

The measure also calls for the further amendment of RA No. 6768, as amended, otherwise known as “An Act Instituting A Balikbayan Program.

Alvarez said RA No. 8042, as amended, otherwise known as the “Migrant Workers” and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995”,” grants travel tax exemption solely to OFWs and not to their dependents.

“This is contrary to the provisions of RA No. 6768,” the Speaker said.

Other authors of the bill are Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas (1st District, Ilocos Norte), Reps. Dakila Carlo Cua (Lone District, Quirino), chairman of the committee on ways and means and Lucy T. Gomez (4th District, Leyte), chairperson of the committee on tourism.

The bill will be referred to the committee on ways and means for approval of tax provisions.

PH-American War commemoration gets funding

The House committee on appropriations approved Wednesday the funding for the commemoration of the “Philippine American War Memorial Day or “Araw ng Paggunita sa Digmaang Pilipino-Amerikano" every February 4.

The committee, chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City), approved
the funding provision as contained in Section 4 of the unnumbered bill. The funding shall be drawn from the appropriations of the agencies concerned.

The unnumbered bill substituting House Bill 2092 authored by ACT Teachers Party-list Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro and Rep. Mohamad Khalid (1st District, Lanao del Norte) also declares February 4 of every year as a special working holiday to remember the men and women who fought and died in defense of the Filipino nation during the said war.

The committee on basic education and culture chaired by Rep. Ramon Durano VI endorsed the bill to the appropriations committee for funding of the implementation of the proposed Act. Thereafter, the bill will be endorsed to the plenary for second reading.

The bill mandates the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to ensure that appropriate activities are held in schools at all levels to commemorate the historic event.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines shall be responsible for providing the DepEd, CHED, and the general public with the necessary information to ensure a meaningful commemoration.

Tinio said the country commemorated the 118th anniversary of the Philippine-American war last February 4, 2017.

“Sadly, February 4 passes yearly with hardly an official acknowledgement of the Philippine-American War and its tremendous significance in our history. Any memory of the event, heroes, and martyrs of the war has nearly been obliterated from the collective consciousness of our people,” said Tinio.

Tinio said the struggle waged by Filipinos to defend their freedom newly-won from Spain and uphold the  First Republic of the Philippines against the occupation forces of the United States of America has been described as “one of the most heroic struggles ever waged in modern times; a struggle waged against implacable odds and at terrible cost.”

There are definitive figures on the number of Filipinos who died as a result of the war, he said. One conservative estimate puts the number of Filipino soldiers killed at 34,000 together with the 200,000 civilian deaths directly or indirectly (mainly through disease) brought about by the war.

“Their sacrifice had been indispensable in the forging of the modern Filipino nation, and every Filipino citizen owes them a debt of gratitude,” said Tinio.

More accessible Venue for libel hearings pushed

The House committee on Public information chaired by Rep. Bernadette Herrer-Dy (Party-list, Bagong Henerasyon) this week approved House Bill 685 seeking to make the libel case hearings more accessible to community journalists and broadcasters.

The approved bill provides the venue for the criminal and civil action in libel cases against community journalists, publications or broadcast stations.

The bill authored by Rep. Raul del Mar (1st District, Cebu) provides that the criminal or civil action against a community journalist, publication or broadcast station shall be filed in the Regional Trial Court of the province or city where the principal office or place of business of the said community journalist, publication or broadcast station is located.

Likewise, the civil action shall be filed in the same court where the criminal action is lodged.

The bill defines community journalist, publication, or broadcast station as “a journalist or news medium that operates within a limited area of circulation or broadcast in a city, province, or region, as defined by existing laws.”

Del Mar said libel whether filed as a criminal or civil action is undeniably being used as a convenient legal tool to harass journalists, especially the community newspaper and broadcast practitioners. This is so because under the present rules, the complainant or offended party, if he is a public officer, can file the complaint in Manila if his office is in Manila or in the office outside Manila if his office is located there.

If the complainant is a private person, the venue is his place of residence at the time of commission of offense.

"Thus, a newspaper or broadcast station for example in Aparri or Jolo, Cebu or Davao can be made to answer a complaint filed in Metro Manila where the complainant resides, although the subject, issue or the incident published – in law the cause of action – did not arise in Metro Manila,"said Del Mar.

Del Mar said the prevailing rules on venue thus place community journalist and local broadcasters in a situation where they have to answer complaints or charges filed, rightly or wrongly, in remote or distant places, deliberately filed far away from their place of work or business.

 “The element of oppression is there.  The toll of inconvenience, financial or otherwise, is often more onerous and burdensome than the penalty or fine prescribed by the law. This may even lead to a miscarriage of justice in cases where the accused or defendant fails to appear because of the distance and travel constraints,” said Del Mar.

The lawmaker said the community journalist and his organization, mostly financially handicapped and already afflicted with all sorts of pressures and threats, need immediate relief from the present venue rule of libel cases whether criminal or civil, which create an opportunity for oppression.

Rep. Joselitoto Atienza (Party-list, Buhay) expressed support for the passage of the bill, saying requiring the one sued to travel far is burdensome and prejudicial.

 “It’s about time we adjust the ways that libel can be filed against any media personality or media station. This is to make the libel case more accessible,” said Atienza.

Bill creating arboretum in Lanao del Norte gets support

The House committee on reforestation chaired by Rep. Noel Villanueva (3rd District, Tarlac) has approved several bills seeking to establish arboretums in the province of Lanao del Norte.

The bills define arboretum as “a reserved area which is essentially for a well-grown and representative collection of trees or shrubs species planted and maintained for the purpose of reference, scientific studies and as a convenient source of seeds and herbarium materials.”

House Bill 2469 seeks to establish an arboretum in the premises of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Barangay Poblacion, Municipality of Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte to be known as the Kolambugan Arboretum.

House Bill 2470 seeks to establish an arboretum in the Municipality of Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte that shall include the Mighty Cave Park in it and shall be known as the Mighty Cave Park Arboretum.

House Bill 3696 seeks to establish an arboretum in the campus of the Mindanao State University – Lanao del Norte Agricultural College in Barangay Ramain, Municipality of Sultan Naga Dimaporo to be known as the MSU-LNAC Arboretum.

The three bills are authored by father-and-son Reps. Abdullah Dimaporo (2nd District, Lanao del Norte) and Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte).

The objectives of establishing arboretum in the specified areas are: for scientific purposes and to provide outdoor laboratory for scientific studies by faculty and students in dendrology, phenology, botany, environmental studies and other related fields of study; for the teaching of dendrology; as a sanctuary for the preservation and conservation of genetic resources of trees and shrubs, and as a model for environmentally sound landscape management and serve as the habitat for a variety of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small mammals, making for an interesting mix of wildlife in the area, among others.

The elder Dimaporo explained an arboretum is an area devoted to specimen planting of woody plants which are either trees or shrubs.

“Distinct from a forest or park, it is in a sense an outdoor museum of trees. It is a place where many varieties of trees and shrubs are grown for research, educational, and ornamental purposes where trees and other woody plants are cultivated for exhibition,” he said.

Dimaporo further said an arboretum plays an important role in the lives of many people and is a valuable environmental, educational, recreational, and cultural resource for the country.

He said planting more trees mitigate the effects of climate change – as long as the right trees are planted in the right place and an arboretum is such one right place.

Dimaporo said the province of Lanao del Norte is already suffering from the effects of climate change – the lowering of the water level, disappearing forests and “bald” mountains.

He said the arboretum can supply the necessary seedlings in the future to reforest the destroyed watersheds of the province.

“An arboretum can showcase how the province would look like if we can revive the watersheds,” Dimaporo said.

One of the resource persons, Dr. Perry Ong of the University of the Philippines - Diliman Institute of Biology recommended that aside from an arboretum, which he described as a mechanism to address the problem of forest loss, an area should also be designated to plant the same species of trees that are planted in the arboretum.

“Ito yung mga puno na natural dun sa lugar na maipakita natin na ito ay nawala at ito ay gusto nating ibalik,” Ong said.

He also proposed the designation of an area or place for fire wood production saying, “Kelangan natin na merong fire wood production dahil kung walang makukuhang firewood na tinanim, sa natural na kagubatan na naman kukuha ang mga yan” referring to people who use firewood for cooking.

“Dapat mga dugtong dugtong na programa po ito. So meron kang arboretum which is more a protection education mechanism, tapos meron kang restoration component. Maglaan ng lupa na ganito kalaking ektarya ang tataniman  natin para ibalik ang mga puno, para ma-ensure din natin na bumalik  ang tubig dahil kung arboretum lang ang itatayo natin, limitado ang area na maiimbak niya. Kelangan din natin ang programa pabalik dun sa kabundukan kung saan nandun ang orihinal na kagubatan tapos sa baba naman meron firewood production areas din.”

Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan) expressed her support for the bill and said her district also needs an arboretum.

“Maganda ang bill ni Congressman Dimaporo. Hindi lahat na mga kongresista alam ang arboretum,” she said.

Agabas requested the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to include in its programs the creation of arboretums in the different provinces and maybe institutionalize it without Congress passing legislation on it.

Other members who attended the meeting are Reps. Makmod Mending, Jr. (Party-list, AMIN), Joseph Stephen Paduano (Party-list, ABANG LINGKOD), Julieta Cortuna (Party-list, A  TEACEHR), Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), Rogelio Neil Roque (4th District, Bukidnon), Pablo Ortega (1st District, La Union), Lawrence Fortun (1st District, Agusan del Norte) and Scott Davies Lanete (3rd District, Masbate).

TADECO contract highly onerous: Speaker Alvarez

The House committees on good government and public accountability and on justice chaired by Rep. Johnny Pimentel (2nd District, Surigao del Sur) and Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro, respectively, have resumed their joint investigation into the alleged grossly disadvantageous contract entered into by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. (TADECO).

The congressional inquiry is being conducted following the filing by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (1st District, Davao del Norte) of House Resolution No. 867, which seeks to look into the joint venture agreement (JVA) between the BuCor and TADECO on the Davao penal colony.

Pimentel said the basic issue raised in HR 867 is “whether or not the government is being shortchanged in the operation of the joint venture agreement (JVA) executed by BuCor and TADECO involving the Davao prison and penal farm.”

In a separate press conference, the Speaker said the Bucor-Tadeco contract is clearly disadvantageous to the government. He also said the renewal of the contract did not go through public bidding.

 “Well, malinaw dito na talagang agrabyado ang gobyerno. Malinaw talaga yun. Kasing linaw yun ng sikat ng araw. Why? Kasi, yung binibigay sa gobyerno, compared doon sa kinikita nila, eto, year 2016 pa lang ha? Tingnan nyo yung submission ng Del Monte Fresh. Yun lang yun ha? Isa lang yun ha? Yung buyer nila. It runs into the billions of pesos. Ang share ng gobyerno, mga hundred plus pesos lang. Malinaw yun,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez also said the contract is not valid, pointing out that the law does not allow the lease of more than 1,000 hectares of government land. He further said the land being leased to TADECO is more than 5,000 hectares.

 “Hindi valid, sabi ng DOJ, sabi ng COA, sabi ng SolGen. Hindi valid, kasi tingnan mo yung Constitution, you cannot lease more than 1,000 hectares of land ng gobyerno. At yun ay 5,308 hectares,” Alvarez said.

Pimentel pointed that during the last joint committee hearing that information on the reported earnings and profit of TADECO from the produce of banana was provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) based on the audited financial statement submitted by TADECO to the agency.

 “For 2016, TADECO reported the production and profit share of P44.9 million given to BuCor which was 0.63 percent of the reported revenue of TADECO. And for 2015, the production and profit share of BuCor was P44.7 million which was 0.65 percent of the revenue of TADECO,” Pimentel said.

 “The joint committees also learned that TADECO listed the rental expense under JVA as part of the cost of sales under the line item Land Rentals during years 2002 to 2013. While for years 2014 to 2016, TADECO listed Production and Profit Share under the JVA as part of the cost of sales,” he said.

 “This information reflects on the relationship of BuCor and TADECO under the JVA whether it is a partnership or a lessor-lessee relationship,” he added.

Pimentel pointed out that the audited financial statement of TADECO clearly shows that what the company is remitting to BuCor is not profit sharing but only land rental, which is a violation of the JVA.

Pimentel stressed that the information acquired by the joint committees, DOJ on the legality of the JVA, and the facts obtained from other resource persons and stakeholders will guide the joint committees in coming up with a comprehensive report.

According to him, the comprehensive report will include findings on the legality of the JVA and any impairment suffered by the government from such contract.

 “In case the commission of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance is established, the committee on good government and public accountability will recommend the filing of appropriate charges against the erring official or employee,” Pimentel said.

 “The committee will likewise recommend necessary remedial legislation to preclude the repetition of similar transaction or a recommendation on how to rectify such transaction that will not be prejudicial to the interest of the state,” Pimentel said.

Umali said the revenues that can be generated from the programs like the BuCor-TADECO joint venture should be optimized in order to fund the planned modernization of the country’s jails, penal colonies, and other correctional facilities.

-------------------

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

MEETING THE PRESS: One-week away from scheduled Congressional recess, Chairpersons Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (Appropriations), Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua (Ways and Means), and Rep. Johnny Ty Pimentel (Good Government and Public Accountability) discussed the accomplishments of their respective committees with House media. These include the FY 2018 General Appropriations Bill and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Bill which hurdled the third and final reading in the House and are now awaiting Senate counterpart measures. Ongoing investigations in aid of legislation on the alleged anomalous purchases made by the provincial government of Ilocos Norte were also discussed.

LIYAB: Rep. Geraldine Roman (right) with urban planner and Rep. Christopher de Venecia at the House of Representatives' (HOR) anniversary forum dubbed “Liyab: Awakening the Leader in You” on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. The forum, an initiative of the Office of Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, aims to awaken the participants' sense of nationalism, community and purpose.  The forum also featured Rep. Christopher de Venecia, HOR Secretary General Atty. Cesar Strait Pareja, who delivered the opening remarks, Deputy Secretaries General Atty. Alan Tan, Artemio Adaza, Jr., and Edgardo Pangilinan, and Head Executive Assistant Atty. Darren de Jesus.

TULONG TRABAHO--The joint Committees on Higher and Technical Education and Labor and Employment chaired respectively by Reps. Ann Hofer and Randolph S. Ting approved the consolidation of bills instituting a Philippine labor force competencies and competitiveness program and the establishment of free access to technical and vocational trainings as contained in various bills authored by Reps. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (HB 5923), Sherwin N. Tugna (HB 5889), Alfred D. Vargas (HB 5729), and Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr. (HB 6287).  Under the “Tulong Trabaho” bill, a fund will be created to assist out-of-school youth, unemployed graduates and women, in a bid to supply a competent labor force especially in emerging industries. Present in the bill’s deliberation were Deputy Speaker Linabelle Ruth R. Villarica, Reps. Rosemarie J. Arenas, Carlito S. Marquez, Mark O. Go, Angelina Tan, Ma. Theresa V. Collantes, France L. Castro, and Jose I. Tejada.

YOLANDA HOUSING ANOMALIES--House committee on good government and public accountability chairman Rep. Johnny Ty Pimentel, and committee on housing and urban development chair Rep. Alfredo “Albee” B. Benitez, in a joint hearing deliberated on House Resolution 599 authored by Rep. Ben Evardone which called for an inquiry on the snail-paced implementation of housing relocation and resettlement projects for Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda victims. The committee grilled contractor JC Builders Inc. for the alleged anomalies and officials of the National Housing Authority-Region VIII for failure of its monitoring sysyem, and noted that without the House inquiry and the help of a whistle blower, the use of substandard materials would not be discovered.

CONSUMER PROTECTION--Committee on Energy chairman Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco (right) confers with vice-chair Rep. Carlos Roman L. Uybarreta and former Rep. Neri Colmenares as they probe alleged overpricing and other unfair practices of some oil industry players based on House Resolutions 415 and 853 filed by Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Mark Go, respectively. The committee noted that these practices run contrary to the original intention of the Oil Deregulation Law (RA 8479) of creating friendly competition to benefit consumers. For failing to attend once again, officials from Pilipinas Shell were issued subpoenas, while Chevron Philippines, Inc. representatives were given a stern warning to compel them to attend the next scheduled hearing. Attendees in the hearing were Reps. Arlene Arcillas, Ferjenel Biron, Sabiniano Canama, France Castro, Aurora Cerilles, Rodante Marcoleta, Wilter Wee Palma II, Rogelio Neil Pepito Roque, Jose Tejada and Arnel Ty, representatives from concerned government agencies and officials from the petroleum industry players.

COMELEC TIMELINE: The Commission on Elections gave the House Committee on Electoral Reforms led by its chairman Rep. Sherwin Tugna (Party-list, CIBAC) a briefing on its timeline in conducting the 2019 national and local elections, detailing the accomplishments of the commission so far and a breakdown of upcoming activities in preparation for the next elections. Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia disclosed there is no decision yet as to what technology will be used but noted that the Comelec will announce it by November this year. Others who attended the hearing were members of the Comelec Advisory Council led by Under Secretary Eliseo Rio, Jr. of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. Deputy Speakers Fredenil “Fred” Castro (2nd District, Capiz) and Gwendolyn F. Garcia (3rd District, Cebu) were active participants of the meeting.

LAWLESS LAW ENFORCERS: House Committee on Public and Safety chair Rep. Romeo Acop heads the probe into HR 763 he co-filed with Reps. Leopoldo Bataoil, Raul Tupas, Gary Alejano and Ben Evardone on the breakdown of discipline in the Philippine National Police, paying particular attention to the recent killings in Caloocan, the alleged inaction of the PNP despite the spate of killings, the conduct of operations without the knowledge of superiors and the use of minors during police operations. Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice expressed apprehension over the replacement of the 1,200-strong Caloocan police force with only 300 unarmed policemen, weakening their crime-fighting ability, while PNP officials dispelled allegations of inaction, quotas or rewards. Along with Reps. Cristal Bagatsing, Rozanno Rufino Biazon, Winston Castelo, Ruwel Peter Gonzaga, Scott Davies Lanete and Gus Tambunting, PNP officials, related government agencies and guests, including the minor used in the highly controversial Caloocan police raid were also present in the hearing.

ONEROUS TADECO CONTRACT--The Philippine government is losing billions of pesos as a result of the onerous contract between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Tagum Agricultural Development Company Inc. (TADECO). This became more evident as the House committees on good government and public accountability chaired by Rep. Johnny Ty Pimentel, and the committee on justice chaired by Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali resumed their hearing on House Resolution No. 867 filed by Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez. This is the fourth hearing conducted by the two committees on the matter. Those who attended were Speaker Pantaleon G. Alvarez, Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn F. Garcia (3rd District Cebu), Reps. Carlito S. Marquez (Lone District, Aklan), Makmod D. Mending, Jr. (Party-list, AMIN), Eugene Michael B. De Vera (Party-list, ABS), Pablo C. Ortega (1st District, La Union), Jerry P. Treñas (Lone District, Iloilo City), and Roger G. Mercado (Lone District, Southern Leyte). Others present were executives of Tadeco, officials from Bucor, DENR and other government offices.

DOT OR LGU RESPONSIBILITY -- This is what Rep. Edgar Sarmiento’s HR 1087 wants cleared as the House Committee on Tourism chaired by Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez probed  the accountability between the Department of Tourism and concerned local government units in ensuring sustainability of the country’s tourist spots amid growing commercialism and worsening pollution. The resolution is an offshoot of the 11-day Western and Eastern Nautical Highway Inspection last March 17 to 27, 2017 that the House of Representatives embarked on,  where lawmakers experienced first-hand the condition of the country’s ports, highways, and tourist spots, among others. With the committee taking the world-renowned destination Boracay as its case in point in its quest to prevent such from happening in other parts of the country, the DoT family briefed the committee on the shared responsibilities of the agency and the LGUs concerned as embodied in several laws, as well as the tourism vision contained in the National Tourism Development Plan. Present during the meeting were Reps. Rozanno Rufinno Biazon, Mercedes Cagas, Ma. Theresa Collantes, Wes Gatchalian, Mark Go, Glona Labadlabad, and Rogelio Pacquiao, and representative from concerned agencies and LGUs.

COMELEC CHAIR IMPEACHED: By a vote of 137 affirmative, 75 negative and two abstention, House Members voted to pursue the impeachment complaint against COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista for betrayal of public trust, overriding the recommendation submitted by the Committee of Justice (HR 1397/ Committee Report No.429). Earlier, Bautista announced his decision to resign his post by the end of the year.
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